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Research Confirms Back to School Costs Hurt Kiwis

Media release

Research Confirms Back to School Costs Continue to Hurt Kiwi Families
More than 90% of Kiwi families say they want better value and more choice about where they purchase back to school uniforms and stationery.
22 January 2014; For the second consecutive year, research reveals that almost half of Kiwi families say the cost of sending kids back to school at the start of the year is a big or the biggest financial burden they face.1

The research by The Warehouse Group (TW Group) shows that 60% of New Zealand families say the cost to the family budget is the hardest thing about getting kids back to school – an increase of 9% on last year.

TW Group Chief Executive, Mark Powell says not only does the research again reveal the financial implications of equipping children for school, it also shows that parents overwhelmingly want better value and more choice about where they purchase school stationery and uniforms.

Mr Powell says: “With stationery purchases the key issue is choice, where parents should not be forced to buy from one supplier or source.

With uniforms, while school identity is important, the keys issues are the cost of specific school branded items of clothing and the level of customisation, which prevents parents buying generic items from anywhere they choose,” says Mr Powell.

Families in the study reported that they spent an average of $372.67 per child to equip children for school and that as kids progress through the school system, the financial burden of going back to school each year increases.

More than 450 families with at least one school age child participated in the nationwide online survey. An executive summary of the research is as follows:

Even more families this year say “The cost to the family budget” is the hardest thing about getting kids back to school (60% TY v 51% LY)
Over half (51%) of families find back to school a costly time of year; the number of families that say going back to school is  the most costly time of year is rising (14% TY v 10% LY)
Like last year, just 5% of families say going back to school is not a financial burden and it continues to be a big or the biggest financial burden for almost half (47%) of all families (49% LY)
As children progress through the school system, the financial burden of going back to school continues to increase
Compared with last year, families say they are spending a similar amount per child going back to school (average $372.67 TY v $389.21 LY)
Although parents continue to find uniforms more expensive than non-school clothes (61% TY v 58% LY), they are not seeing a corresponding increase in quality - 59% say that school uniforms are about the same, or worse quality as non-school clothes
Most parents think that compulsory school uniforms are a good idea (73%) and views continue to be split for and against a standard NZ uniform (29% ‘for’ and 40% ‘against’ TY v 32% ‘for’ and 42% ‘against’ LY)
Almost all parents (92%) continue to say they want to be able to choose where they buy uniforms and stationery (no change on LY)

Last week TW Group announced it entered into a conditional agreement to acquire specialist school uniform brand, SchoolTex.  Mr Powell says this agreement complements work the Group is doing to help bring value and choice in the education sector. It will allow the business to provide families with greater value and choice for their back to school needs – a key area of concern highlighted by this research.

1. Research on Costs and Impact of Back-To-School Key Results, November 2013. Going back to school continues to be a big or the biggest financial burden for 47% of all families this year v 49% of all families last year.


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